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Zach Brown hits walk-off HR to lift Villa Park past Servite in Boras Classic

Zach Brown continued a family tradition of athletic achievement at Mater Dei on Tuesday, and he’s not even a Mater Dei student.

Brown hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Villa Park a 5-4 win over Servite at Mater Dei High in a first-round game of the Boras Classic South baseball tournament.

Brown’s father Vince was an outstanding football player and track and field athlete at Mater Dei. He still holds the school shot put record. Vince Brown is the athletic director at Orange Lutheran, also a Boras Classic team, after a long baseball coaching career at Foothill, Woodbridge and Tustin high schools.

Tommy Brown was an All-Orange County offensive lineman at Mater Dei. A much-recruited prospect, Brown played at Alabama before transferring a few months ago to Colorado.

So of course the winning home run was a memory-maker for Zach Brown and he knew plenty of family platitudes would come. That his homer happened against Mater Dei rival Servite could only add to the celebration.

“It was special,” Zach said of the winning home run. “I haven’t checked my phone yet. I know my dad was here for a little bit so he got to see it.”

Also part of this Mater Dei-Villa Park overlap is Villa Park coach Burt Call. Call coached Mater Dei for 19 seasons that included eight league championships and two CIF Southern Section championships. Tuesday’s game was Call’s first coaching at Mater Dei since the school did not renew his contract in 2018.

Brown, a junior, played first base Tuesday, contributed a two-run single in the first inning. He also is a starting pitcher with a 4-1 record and 2.81 ERA.

Villa Park (21-2) is ranked third in the Orange County top 25, and it will play No. 2 Huntington Beach (16-7) in the second round Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Mater Dei.

The tournament, which resumed this season for its 10th season after two years of COVID-caused cancellations, continues Thursday and concludes Friday. The Boras Classic South’s 16-team field includes eight teams ranked in the Prep Baseball Report state top 25.

No. 6 Servite (12-9) went into the Boras with the wind at its back after sweeping Mater Dei in three Trinity League games last week.

The Spartans took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Gavin Grahovac, a junior shortstop who committed to Texas A&M and entered the Boras tournament with a .395 average, opened the bottom of the inning with a single. After Geoff McArthur walked, Brown hit a single that was misplayed to allow McArthur to follow Grahovac home for a 2-0 lead. Brown would score on a balk to make it 3-0.

Servite scored its runs in the top of the second inning. Auggie Gutierrez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to send in the first Friars run. UCLA-committed junior shortstop Roman Martin’s two-out, opposite-field double drove in three runs and gave Servite a 4-3 lead.

Villa Park tied it in the sixth on Andrew Grove’s sacrifice fly that drove in Britton Beeson.

The Friars in the ninth inning had the bases loaded with no outs. Junior right-hander Mason Miles was brought in and got three straight outs.

Brown hit his home run to left field on a fastball with two outs in the ninth.

“I’ve been hunting fastballs all day,” Brown said. “I knew I was sitting on a fastball there, and as soon as I saw it I got it.”

Call is confident the Spartans, No. 6 in the Prep Baseball Report state rankings, can pull out a win under challenging circumstances.

“They’ve been doing it all year,” Call said. “A lot of players stepped up, including Mason Miles coming in there with the bases loaded and nobody out and he was able to get out of it.”

Also at the Boras Classic South:

No. 2 Huntington Beach 3, Yucaipa 2: Antonio Ventimiglia punched a single through the drawn-in infield to drive in the winning in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Oilers (16-7).

Oilers senior left-hander Ben Jacobs pitched six innings, allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks, and struck out nine.

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